10 Imaginative Playdate Ideas to Inspire Kids to Play on Their Own

Michele Zipp | Aug 12, 2015 Big Kid

kids playing pirates

It's not too much to ask: When it's time for a playdate, you want your kids to play with the other kid. Hey, it's not just a "date" for your child, but for you, too. Chatting with other parents over a cup of coffee while your kids are busy having fun is just the break you deserve. And here are some ideas to keep your kids busy so you can do just that.

Some of these ideas take a little bit of planning, but others you can make work with just the things you already have in your house. Nothing pricey or complicated here -- all these imaginative ideas are perfectly simple and keep the little ones engaged in activity. 


Image via © PeopleImages/iStock

  • Craft with boxes.


    You may never recycle a box again -- at least not before letting your kids make creative things with them first. Boxes can be boats, robot gear, houses and more. Adult interaction is needed for some cutting and fitting, but after that, kids can spend hours designing, gluing, drawing, and then wearing their magical box creations. Let your child's imagination soar.

  • Make it a costume party.


    Ask the other kid's parent to bring some of her child's favorite dress up clothes and costumes. Add them to a big box filled your kid's favorites and voila! An endless amount of dress up possibilities. The kids can have fun trying on some new costumes and mixing things up. Hmm ... what happens when a princess and a superhero get together? They both save the stuffed animals, of course!

  • Sidewalk chalk it up.


    Sidewalk chalk seems like a simple idea, and you can make it even more interesting by encouraging a theme. Have the kids draw a house or a village for their dolls. Or maybe a road for their toy cars and trucks. And there's always hopscotch.

  • Get them painting rocks.


    There's a lot to this "game." First, kids have to find the perfect rocks for painting -- they should be big and flat enough so they can draw on them. Next, have them clean off any dirt and then paint or draw on them with markers.

    One idea is to make each rock a different facial feature. One is the eyes, another is the nose and another is the mouse, etc. Then the kids can piece together the rocks to make different looking faces. Prepare for lots of giggles!

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  • Throw a dance party.


    Before the playdate, talk to the other parent to find out what songs get her kid dancing. Put together a playlist of those songs and your child's favorites, and you'll create the perfect dance party. Costumes are optional, but adding them will make for an even more fun and creative playdate.

  • Put on a puppet show.


    A cardboard box can make a great platform to create a puppet show. Kids can even decorate it themselves. Then have them pick out some stuffed animals to be the "puppets." Allowing the kids to creatively play in this way will bring out the storyteller in them.

  • Bring out the little artists.


    Painting on paper is fun, but painting on a canvas is a big deal for a kid. At a craft store, you can purchase a very large canvas for the kids to work on together (or two separate ones, if you're worried sharing will create conflict). Get the paint, brushes and smocks, and don't forget to cover the floor and table, and let the little artists create.

  • Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles.


    Age-appropriate puzzles can be really fun for kids (just make sure they aren't too difficult or it will be you putting it together). Kids love the big colorful ones, and the encouragement to keep trying to see the finished product will keep them going.

    More From The Stir: 10 Fun Imagination Games for Toddlers -- No Toys Required!

  • Have a scavenger hunt.


    A scavenger hunt is an exciting activity for kids. You can hide or place different items around the house or outside and then give the kids baskets to collect them all.


  • Go wild with art supplies.


    Get all the art supplies -- glue, paper, pom poms, felt, glitter, pipe cleaners, feathers -- you name it. Have large poster board or construction paper and let the kids get messy and create, create, create, while you chill out for a while.

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